Ask almost any parent in America — child care is an ongoing source of stress in their lives.
They’ll tell you it’s impossible to find, fees are too expensive, schedules are too rigid and every year they have to re-evaluate their options as their children and families grow. In a recent survey we conducted, 66% of respondents said finding child care was a significant challenge, while 43% said there had been times where they were uncertain who would care for their child on a day to day basis.
I have felt this pain firsthand. When I had my first child, I was fortunate enough to have 6 weeks of paid parental leave. I was also foolish enough to think this was enough time to find child care arrangements that worked for my family. With a demanding job and a very long commute, I struggled to even understand the options that would work for me, and the programs I could find had year-long waitlists.
It was clear I had a problem, and as a total newbie mom I lacked the information, resources and social supports I needed to solve it. Poking around Google and Yelp was getting me nowhere, and I had no idea where else to look. Before I knew it, my leave was over and I still had not secured child care for my new baby.
So I brought him to the office with me, sat down with my manager and informed her that I would not be coming back to work.
When I got pregnant I had no intention to leave my career, and I eventually did return, but it took years to get back to my full capacity professionally. And the data shows I’m not alone — of the survey respondents who did not use any child care at all, half of them reported this was not a situation they chose, but one imposed on them by a lack of available and affordable options.
When we started Winnie, we dove into the issue of child care with the hope that our platform could help make this process easier. What we found surprised us — it isn’t that there aren’t enough child care providers out there, it’s that they’re incredibly hard to find.
Almost half of the highly qualified, licensed child care providers we found weren’t online or engaged in any form of digital marketing at all. This meant they were nearly impossible to find unless you were connected through word of mouth. And as our survey data shows, this just doesn’t work for parents today — most reported that when looking for child care, they turned to Google and Facebook.
Most interesting is that these less tech-savvy providers — remember, this is as much as 50% of the supply in any given area—charged on average almost half as much as the ones with a strong online presence.
So there you have it. By scratching under the surface with this data, we found a deep well of skilled teachers and caregivers with open spaces to fill and lower fees, and all we had to do was bring them online.
My son Hugo on his first day of preschool (and yes, I reviewed it on Winnie!)
We set out to build a tool within Winnie to do just that. Using our child care search tool, you can enter your zip code to see every licensed provider near you on a map, then filter for factors like schedule, age, or availability. Providers can claim their page to add photos, list open spaces and update their information, while parents can share reviews about their experience.
We’ve launched Winnie’s comprehensive child care search in the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, and now in New York City. And we’re not stopping there! We believe parents everywhere should have access to this data, and we intend to bring it to them — in every city, big and small, across the country.
Give it a whirl and let us know what you think!
Questions or comments for us? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Posted by Anne Halsall
Anne Halsall is the Chief Product Officer (CPO) and co-founder of Winnie. Anne is a product designer & developer with a background in knowledge systems & consumer technology. She has two boys and resides in San Francisco.